Victor Yang
May 5 · 4 min read
  • The number of companies valued at $100M have also increased dramatically — 90 companies in 1999 to 427 companies in 2018, an increase of 374%.
  • 2008 is particularly interesting. Relative to all of the prior years, 2008 saw one of the highest numbers of $100M valuation companies AND the highest percentage of eventual unicorns. We all know what happened to the economy in 2008, but the fact that it was a relatively strong year for startups is somewhat a paradox. Perhaps the VC market feels a delay from the impacts of the public markets, as 2009 saw a dip in eventual unicorns and $100M valuation companies. It’s also possible that startups that survived the Recession years became more resilient, savvy, and focused in their business models under the capital crunch, and so more of them became successful as the economy rebounded.
  • 2000 saw the highest number of $100M valuation companies in a 13 year period. The dot-com crash began in March 2000 and ended around October 2002. The high number of $100M valuation companies in 2000 followed by its rapid decline through 2003 (before rebounding in 2004) essentially mirrored the tech crash, but with a lag.
  • Since 2010 and amidst the near 10-year bull run, more and more startups have become unicorns, especially as VC has become such a sought after asset class for investors.
  • Looking at the data in aggregate of the past 20 years, fewer than 8% of companies valued at $100M valuation went on to become unicorns. This percentage will go up, given the current market climate and all of the capital chasing quality deals (e.g. Softbank is planning to raise a second $100B Vision Fund). However, the data shows it’s still extremely hard for companies to become a unicorn even after hitting $100M valuation, a very admirable milestone to achieve especially before this recent 10-year bull run. Of course, that proportion should be higher or lower depending on which direction you go from the $100M valuation hurdle (i.e. there should be more eventual unicorns in a group of companies that achieved a $500M valuation and there should be fewer in a group of companies that achieved a $50M valuation).

Victor Yang

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Venture Investor @ Upshot Ventures. Hooper. Runner. Foodie. Tech enthusiast. Ponderer. Always curious.

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